Retractare: Kline and the Covenants

When i was in seminary I was a militant opponent of Meredith Kline’s view of the covenants, particularly the claim that the Sinai covenant is a republication of the covenant of works.   I am retracting most of that.  The fact remains that the Biblical covenantal structure so much reflects the ANE suzerainty treaty-model that it simply can’t be dismissed.  Even better, such a model entails the concept of “canon.”

While I don’t like saying that Sinai was a republication of the covenant of works, Michael Horton has made clear that Sinai has a works-principle seen in the language of conditions (the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants do not).   See Galatians 3 and 4.


6 comments on “Retractare: Kline and the Covenants

  1. Curious – does anyone here know of Kline’s active involvement within the church? What I mean is, I know he was a professor and a highly influential one at that, at Westminster. Does anyone know of what is “church life” was like? I’ve got several friends in my immediate circles who studied under him. I’m curious about such things. Thanks. And thanks Jacob, for taking another look. Seems like interesting stuff to me, IMO.

  2. In “Jacobian” type fashion (just kidding, Jacob), I’m going to retract my comment, and say that upon skimming this, I found out he was a pastor in the OPC (written by his son, the paragraph, about half way through, mentions that “Hodge” was an OPC pastor. By “hodge”, he means, “Kline.”)

  3. Right. Kline–and ironically, Bahnsen–died in good standing with the Church.

    • Hey OP – that’s a fine comment to make – but I consider that rather provacative.

      Said another way, why bring Bahnsen into the discussion right now? I’m not bothered by it, but it seems more like a rhetorical flourish, than in accord with the topic at hand, which is Kline?

      Are you saying that one’s standing in the church doesn’t necessarily equate to their fidelity or trustworthyness or good standing as teachers at large? Of course that is a fair comment – it was the religious leaders that Jesus was so antagonistic against.

      But my only point is, the church is special to God – so i was curious what role the church played with a man like Kline. That’s all.

      Peace, my friend,

  4. Chris Poe says:

    Next stop, adoption of baptistic views!

    I’m sort of kidding but for what it’s worth I know some Baptists as well as some paedobaptists who say that republication logically leads to antipaedobaptism. I was just discussing this with some RB’s a few hours ago. And one longtime friend of ours from the PB went paedobaptist after rejecting this understanding (more or less) of the Mosaic Covenant, a view that evidently he had held to for many years.

    For the past year or two I have used the language of works-principle with regard to the Mosaic Covenant. As you seem to suggest, I don’t know that works-principle or conditional covenant necessarily entails republication. But what do I know?

    • Ha. The problem with republication is that is that it seems to say that Sinai = Garden of Eden, which is clearly not the case. However, if works-principle is seen in a typological form, then it might work.

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